‘Political face swap’ ad campaign to confound politicians on their return to Westminster


A new campaign urging politicians to ditch left-right notions and embrace the social economy is launching tomorrow.

The new advertising campaign combines famous faces from the left and right of politics and will be unveiled in Westminster tomorrow, as MPs return for their first day back in parliament.

The ads include billboards, posters and wraps on tube-station ticket gates, featuring the merged faces of high profile political figures, past and present, including Boris Johnson and Karl Marx, Ronald Reagan and Fidel Castro, Angela Merkel and John Prescott. MPs using the tube will walk through ticket-gates covered with half-and-half faces of their party leaders and other fellow MPs.

View the ads in the slideshow below or click here.


The campaign supports the launch of the Social Economy Alliance’s 2015 election manifesto. The 400-strong Alliance is calling for politicians to ditch traditional left-right notions of business against society or markets against the state.

Download the manifesto.

According to the Alliance, 20th Century economic thinking in Britain has left business and society pitted against each other. Meanwhile, citizens and communities are getting on with creating solutions to tackle their social and economic problems together. Across the UK, more people than ever before are starting up social enterprises and buying from co-operatives. Social enterprises now have three times the start-up rate of traditional businesses, and account for 15% of all SMEs. The number of co-operatives has increased by more than a quarter since 2009 with a combined turnover of £37 billion last year.

The election manifesto

The manifesto carries 25 recommendations to build a pro-social economy in the UK.

These include:

  1. New ‘Right-to-Buy’ options for communities, so local people can benefit from new energy and building developments. Such rules have turned the tide on ‘nimbyism’ in other countries such as Germany, and enabled citizens to have genuine ownership of local infrastructure and services on which they rely.
  2. Measures to strengthen social value laws, to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent with companies that provide greatest social value, pay a living wage and are open about their tax arrangements.
  3. A French-style ‘solidarity fund’ rule where pension fund managers must offer all savers an option of investing in businesses which benefit society. Research shows these funds perform as well as traditional ones.
  4. New powers to prevent land-banking and open up land for productive use.

Celia Richardson, Director of the Social Economy Alliance, said:

Great ideas often emerge during hard economic times and this has happened in the UK lately. Social enterprises and co-ops are out-performing traditional for-private-profit businesses for growth and optimism. Our political leaders must support the social economy alternatives that people are creating for themselves, like community energy schemes, social enterprise nurseries and co-operative housing.

“Across the globe the race is on to build socially-productive businesses and democratise markets. The UK is ahead in many ways, but our old-fashioned left-right notions often mean our economic policies get in the way, where state ‘vs’ market thinking makes it tougher for social economy alternatives to thrive. This is storing up problems for generations to come.

Our message to the parties ahead of the election is that they must avoid deadlock by using the best ideas – often a smart combination of ‘left and right’. Business can be a vehicle for social change, and markets can be used for society’s benefit. Our political leaders need to get behind the sort of economy that voters are already building.”

The ad campaign

The ads carry the slogan ‘a revolution is happening’, and feature Boris Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, Karl Marx, Michael Gove, Michael Foot and a host of others. They were created by Paul Belford Ltd for the Social Economy Alliance.

The advertising space and the creative has been entirely crowdfunded using social enterprise platform Buzzbnk. Donors include individuals and organisations from the social enterprise sector, such as consumer bottled water brand Belu, a social enterprise which donates 100% of its profits to WaterAid; First Ark Group, a social enterprise housing association working with communities in Knowsley; and School for Social Entrepreneurs, which teaches social entrepreneurship nationwide.

"I was motivated to donate because I think that policymakers are beginning to appreciate the contribution of the social economy. The social economy is all about doing business for the right reasons and in the right way”

Andrew Daly, 41, campaign donor

"I support this campaign because I want more people to see that there is a different, better way of doing business. What we need is a social economy which puts people before profits."

Danielle O'Hara, 21, campaign donor  

The campaign will be shared on social media and is using the hashtags #socialeconomy #politicalfaceswap

Download the manifesto.

The Social Economy Alliance is a new voice on the economy. More than 400 social enterprises, co-operatives, universities, housing associations, crowd-funders, social investors, think tanks and charities have come together to form the group.

Lead partners include: Social Enterprise UK; The Social Investment Forum (through Big Society Capital); Social Investment Business; The School for Social Entrepreneurs; UnLtd; The Young Foundation; The University of Northampton; First Ark Group; Co-operatives UK; Locality; the New Economics Foundation; the Community Development Finance Association; Fusion 21; PM Training; Sandwell Community Caring Trust; Unity Trust Bank; Buzzbnk; CAN; Impetus PEF; Turning Point; HCT Group; the Wales Co-op Centre; Supporters Direct, The cooperative energy; Belu; GLL.